If you’re health-conscious, you may have been attracted by commercials for “green” cookware, i.e., cookware that is nonstick but not coated with Teflon or other toxic no-stick chemicals. Although some green cookware still has nonstick coatings, it is supposed to be safer than the kind with traditional Teflon coatings. Green cookware is usually lined in ceramic or covered in a glass-like sand coating.
I bought a set of green cookware a few years ago, the Cook’s Essentials EarthPans with SandFlow coating, to get away from Teflon-coated pans. To be honest, I have used it less and less as time goes by, mainly because it has limited utility for the things I make in my kitchen. I don’t cook as much as in the past because I eat more raw food, but the real reason I am not that impressed with green cookware is that I cannot use oil, cooking sprays, or any other kind of fat in it. Everything is cooked in water only. While there are health benefits to cooking without unhealthful fats like bacon grease, shortening, lard, or large amounts of butter, healthful fats are an important part of a beneficial diet. Fat is also the ingredient that transmits flavor in food. Without the fat, you can season food all you want and it will never taste as good as with a little bit of fat. The main thing I cook in a skillet is scrambled eggs, and I like them with a little olive oil or a dab of butter, neither of which can be used in a green pan.
Scrambled eggs with no fat cooked in water are about as flavorless as you can get. I haven’t used my green skillet at all since I got a new Teflon skillet that I use at medium heat or below to keep the toxic chemicals from leaching into my food. I also noticed that while the green pan is supposed to be nonstick, it really isn’t. Food sticks to it, and you can’t use cooking spray or other fats to keep it from sticking. Really, the only thing these pans are good for is boiling or sautéing foods in water. They are not that easy to clean, either. Although the commercials state that you can put them in the dishwasher, the instructions say to wash them by hand.
Another problem with some green cookware is that it is more fragile and easily damaged than regular cookware. The set I have is covered in SandFlow, which is similar to glass, although it does not look like it. Overheating it or subjecting it to sudden changes of temperature—even setting a hot pan down on a cold trivet—can damage it. I also found that the outer coating chipped easily. Some ceramic-lined green cookware may be limited in terms of the temperature it can be heated to. I once cooked something at high heat in a ceramic pot, and I left the kitchen to tend to something in another room and heard the sound of popping. I ran back into the kitchen to find the ceramic popping off the surface of the pot in little chunks.
If you’re committed to using no fat at all in your cooking and you’re willing to keep temperatures to a moderate level when you cook, you might like using green cookware. However, if you don’t cook with fat, you should at least add healthful fats to your diet somehow, either by eating nuts, avocados, raw coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil. Your skin and your brain will thank you, and the antioxidants in these good fats will also help keep your immune system humming. If you still cook with any amount of fat at all, pass up green cookware. You’re better off using the old Corningware, which was made of glass and could be used on the stovetop as well. Newer Corningware cannot take direct heat and cannot be used on the stovetop, but it can be used for baking foods containing fat. If you don’t have the old stovetop-friendly Corningware, you can use stainless steel cookware or you can just use Teflon-coated cookware and keep the cooking temperatures at medium or below.
Green cookware is one of those innovations that sounds better than it really is. At least for me, it has not been satisfying to use, and I have not been impressed with its nonstick capabilities. Amazon.com reviews of green cookware show a significant number of bad reviews. Scanpan reviewers state that the company does not honor its warranty. Orgreenic reviewers indicate that the product is cheaply made. Reviews of the EarthPan indicate that food sticks to it badly, and the problem just increases as the pan ages. Moreover, very few things I make have zero fat in them, so it just isn’t that useful. In my opinion, green pans are more trouble than they’re worth, and the food you can make in them lacks the vibrant flavor I’m looking for. I vote no on green pans.